Changes to Vermont’s Current Use Program

During the 2015 legislative session, the Vermont legislature made a number of changes to the law affecting the Current Use (Use Value Appraisal) Program. They include provisions for the following:

  • A new calculation for the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) (beginning Oct. 2, 2015)
  • A temporary “easy-out” period in which landowners can remove a parcel, or portion of a parcel, without paying the full LUCT liability (between July 1 and Oct. 1, 2015).
  • A new annual requirement for owners of agricultural lands and buildings to certify in writing on or before September 1 of every year that all enrolled agricultural land and buildings meet the requirements for enrollment at the time of the certification (form will be available in August).
  • Authority given to Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to direct the Vermont Department of Taxes to remove agricultural land and farm buildings from the Current Use Program when the land or buildings are used by a person who has violated water quality requirements (beginning July 1, 2015).

For details on the changes to the Current Use Program, please see the following:

Fact Sheet: “Changes in the Law Affecting the Current Use Program in 2015”

Easy-Out Form CU-312: Application to Discontinue Land Through the “Easy-Out” Option

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A Greener Green Up Day

As my 9 year old daughter and I drove past a number of dairy farms in Addison County this spring day, she said, “Wow, that grass is so green, it doesn’t look real.”

“That grass is special,” I said, “It’s a cover crop.” We were looking at a beautiful stand of cereal rye, seeded in the fall following the silage corn harvest. Soon after snow melt, the rye fields green up–they break dormancy earlier than other cereals and quickly start producing.

Cereal rye in silage corn field.

Cereal rye in silage corn field.

Over the past few years, more and more farmers have adopted the practice of cover cropping as they realize the benefits that these crops can offer their farm fields, including protection of nutrient and soil resources, suppression of weeds, increased soil organic matter, and even extra feed for their livestock. University of Vermont Extension as well as a host of other organizations, including USDA NRCS, Vermont Agency of Agriculture FAP, and Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, among others, have been working with farmers to support the adoption of this practice. For example, both the UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils (NWCS) Program and UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soils & Pasture Program teams have been conducting research, conferences, and field days to increase our collective understanding of what and how to grow cover crops in our Vermont growing conditions. Out Croppings, a blog of the NWCS program is now dedicating its posts to cover cropping and other soil health topics.

As we prepare for Green Up Day here in Vermont the first weekend in May–a tradition our state alone has been practicing since the 1970s–it occurs to me that this year, and hopefully for many years to come, we’ll celebrate a greener Green Up Day, thanks for our farmers who cover crop!

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Farmer Perspectives Needed: Healthcare & Farm Businesses?

Researchers at the University of Vermont are seeking farmers to participate in listening sessions as part of a study on healthcare.

This study is looking at the ways healthcare costs impact farm business in the Northeast. It is intended to help develop policy that minimizes the challenges and maximizes the opportunities farm families face when making household-level decisions, such as healthcare.

The focus group will be Thursday, March 12, 2015 from 6 to 7:30 pm in Middlebury.

Participants must be farmers but no other knowledge or experience is needed.

RSVP for one or both sessions to Emily Stengel, 717-669-1666 or

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